Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Continuing Saga of Our New Car - Part 1

Well, the car-buying experience did not go quite as planned. We did eventually get the car, we just took a somewhat circuitous route to get there.

When we took the car out for the final test drive before we agreed to purchase it, the "Check Engine" light came on. I pointed it out to the sales manager we were working with, and he said they would put it into their shop and see what was wrong. We offered to put down a deposit to secure the car, with the provision that the repairs went forward as planned. This was the Saturday before Presidents Day, so that Monday was a holiday. We heard back on Tuesday that the error code showed the cam position sensor was faulty. The sales manager said they would simply replace the sensor. They called back on Wednesday and said the car was ready. Due to our schedules being full, we set a date for Saturday morning to sign the papers and buy the car.

We showed up at the dealer bright and early on Saturday, signed the paperwork, wrote them a check for the difference and drove our new baby home. The drive home was uneventful, other than remembering how different a true American car is to drive, compared to my Mazda.

Since we still had my wife's old car in the garage, I parked the Buick in the driveway behind it. That evening, I went out to swap cars around as the forecast called for snow, and I did not want it to snow on the new car. So, I went out, put my key in the ignition, and it wouldn't turn. I messed with it for a few seconds, and got it to turn and start the car. Then I went to shift it into reverse to back out of the driveway. The shifter knob would not go down. I couldn't get the car out of park. So, again, I messed with it for a few minutes and could not get it to work. Frustrated, I shut it off and went inside to ponder my next move.

This particular car has a center console-mounted shifter with the release button on top. After spending some time online looking at diagrams on how to unhook the shift linkage and manually put the car in reverse, I decided to go give it one last try before breaking out the tools. However, this time I took ESM's set of keys (the one with the key fob remote) instead of mine. I put the key in the ignition, did not have any trouble starting it, and as if by magic the car shifted into gear with no drama. I became convinced at that point that the different keys were the issue. You see, GM cars of that era had the anti-theft keys with the small electrical contacts on them. So, I assumed it must be a problem with that key not registering with the car correctly. Easy enough, I'll ask the dealer to replace my key. I finished swapping the cars around and went off to bed.

The next morning (Sunday), we took the car on some errands we needed to run, and during our outing the "Check Engine" light came on again! When we purchased the car, they dealer we bought it from gave us a 30-day, 1,000-mile powertrain warranty and a 48-hour, no-questions-asked return policy. ESM and I were now pondering the prospect of returning the car and finding something else. After some discussion, we decided it was better to first call the dealer on Monday and see what they would do before we made any further decision. It had to wait until Monday, as Colorado is one of those backward places where someone still thinks that letting car dealers be open on Sunday will somehow lead to the complete breakdown of our society.

ESM and I decided to switch cars temporarily, as her commute to school was much farther than mine to work, and I did not like the idea of her being possibly stranded on the other side of town, at night. So, I drove the new car to work on Monday. As I walked out to the garage that morning, a new thought occurred to me. They had filled the car with gas before we took it. Did they maybe not tighten down the gas cap? That can cause the "Check Engine" to come on sometimes. It couldn't hurt to make sure. So I did that, and sure enough, the light went off when I started it. YAY! Maybe that's all it was.

It was not. Not by a long shot.

When I took the car out at noon to grab a bite of lunch, the light came back on again, and re-seating the gas cap did not help this time. So, I called the sales manager at the dealer...again...and told them the light was on...again. He apologized profusely, and asked me to bring the car back to them the next day and they would "make it right." I then asked about the 48-hour return and if the time limit would reset after the repairs were made? He reassured me and said not to worry about the 48-hour time limit...they would take the car back at any point if they couldn't fix these issues to our satisfaction. Oh-kay... He then made an appointment for me to meet with a shop technician named Andrew at 9am the next day. I arranged with my boss to have some time off to take the car back the next morning, and went back to work.

As I went to go home that night, with ESMs keys, which had worked fine previously, the problem with the shifter knob returned. I could not get it out of park...again. Grand, now I'm going to be stuck at work. As I was not completely enthralled with that idea, I began futzing about with the shifter knob. I was pressing it in different ways, towards the sides, in the middle, wiggle, wiggle, wiggle...then, as I had both thumbs pressing down hard on the button, it suddenly went down and I was able to shift! Ok, think...if it won't come out of reverse for some reason, I need a plan. I put the car into reverse, and because the parking lot was empty by now, I backed straight back across the aisle into another parking spot, just in case. However, you don't need the button to shift from reverse into drive, typical of most automatics. So, I was able to shift into drive, take the car home and get it into the garage.

I came into the house, fuming...called the sales manager and told him I had had enough and in all good conscience I could not keep a car that had all this wrong with it. To his credit, the sales manager was very calm and said he was disappointed, but could certainly understand my frustration. He explained he came in to work at 10am the next morning, and I should come see him then and we would sign the paperwork to reverse the sale.

As soon as I hung up the phone, ESM and I began discussing what our next move was. Did we want to start car shopping again? What was going to be our approach this time? We went online and started looking again, but all we were finding was four-door grocery-getters in our price range. ESM had told me as we started looking the first time, she did NOT want another boring car! She wanted something sporty, stylish, exciting. These four-door sedans were definitely NOT exciting.

The more we talked about the issue, the more one point began to stand out above everything else...we just really liked the Buick. We had a very hard time thinking about giving it up, and starting over again. After much debate (and stomping of feet and gnashing of teeth), we decided to keep the appointment with Andrew the technician at 9am and see what was wrong before we gave the car back...

Don't miss the next, topsy-turvy installment of our continuing story on Saturday!

1 comment:

  1. Oh, no!! I'm so sorry! I was grrring for you by the time the shift malfunctioned at work.

    Waiting with bated breath for the next installment!

    Hug EMS and the kits for me!


Hey, I tell you what is... is abuse, is bad language, is spam? Oy, is big shoes!